Exploring the National Museum of Singapore and Its Rich Cultural Heritage

Singapore GoTo

Updated on:

national museum of singapore

Singapore’s National Museum is one of the oldest and most prominent museums in the country. Established in 1887, it has played a significant role in preserving Singapore’s rich cultural heritage. This museum is a must-visit destination, and this guide will take you through its history, architecture, permanent exhibits, and special events.

A Brief History of Singapore’s National Museum

The National Museum of Singapore had its humble beginnings as a section of the Raffles Library and Museum back in 1849. Its collection, although small at the time, consisted of natural history specimens, artefacts gathered from Southeast Asia, and prints of paintings and drawings. By the turn of the century, the museum had grown significantly.

Over the years, the National Museum of Singapore has played a vital role in preserving the country’s rich history and culture. It has undergone many changes and renovations, each time emerging as a better version of itself. The museum has been a witness to Singapore’s transformation from a small fishing village to a bustling metropolis.

One of the key milestones in the museum’s history was its move to its current location on Stamford Road in 1887. This move marked a significant moment in the museum’s history and cultural significance. The new building was designed by Colonel Henry Edward McCallum, a renowned architect of his time. The building’s neo-classical design, with its grand columns and imposing façade, made it an instant landmark in Singapore’s cityscape.

Today, the National Museum of Singapore stands as a testament to the country’s rich and diverse history. The museum’s collection has grown to over 18,000 items, including ancient artefacts, vintage photographs, and interactive exhibits. The museum’s galleries showcase Singapore’s history from its early days as a trading port to its present-day status as a global financial hub.

In the early 2000s, the museum underwent extensive renovations and rejuvenation. The renovation project aimed to preserve the building’s heritage while introducing modern features and technologies. The new museum now boasts state-of-the-art facilities, including a multi-purpose theatre, a café, and a gift shop.

The National Museum of Singapore is not just a place to learn about history; it is a cultural hub that hosts events, exhibitions, and workshops throughout the year. The museum’s outreach programs aim to engage visitors of all ages and backgrounds, making it a popular destination for locals and tourists alike.

Overall, the National Museum of Singapore is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in Singapore’s rich cultural heritage. Its impressive collection, stunning architecture, and engaging exhibitions make it a true gem in the heart of the city.

The Singapore National Museum Architectural Marvels

national museum of singapore
Image source: Xhk Basharat

The National Museum of Singapore is not only a treasure trove of historical artefacts but also a marvel of architectural design. The museum’s blend of Neo-Palladian and Renaissance styles is a testament to Singapore’s rich cultural heritage and colonial past.

The Neo-Palladian style, which originated in 18th-century England, is characterized by symmetry, proportion, and the use of classical orders such as Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian. The Renaissance style, on the other hand, emerged in 15th-century Italy and is known for its ornate decorations, arches, and domes. The National Museum’s original building, with its clock tower, Doric columns, and grand facade, is a prime example of this architectural style.

However, the National Museum is not just a relic of the past. It has undergone several modern additions, including the Glass Rotunda. The Rotunda is a stunning example of contemporary design, with its sleek glass structure and cutting-edge digital installations. Visitors can access the Rotunda via a glass bridge and immerse themselves in the mesmerizing digital artwork entitled Story of the Forest.

But the Glass Rotunda is not the only modern addition to the National Museum. The museum has also added a new wing that houses a state-of-the-art auditorium, exhibition galleries, and a rooftop garden. The new wing seamlessly blends with the historic building, creating a harmonious balance between old and new.

As you walk through the National Museum of Singapore, you can’t help but be awed by its architectural splendour. The museum’s blend of old and new, historic and contemporary, is a reflection of Singapore’s vibrant and dynamic culture.

National Museum of Singapore Permanent Exhibits and Galleries

national museum of singapore
Image source: Yong Heng Ty

Singapore History Gallery

The Singapore History Gallery takes visitors on a journey from Singapore’s early days to its present. It features over 700 artefacts and interactive displays that bring Singapore’s rich history to life. The exhibition features ten galleries spanning 700 years of the country’s history, including its colonial past, its struggles during World War II, and its emergence as an independent state.

Life in Singapore: The Past 100 Years

This gallery offers visitors a glimpse into Singapore’s recent history, covering the past 100 years. This gallery features personal stories, artefacts, and interactive displays. Visitors can learn about Singapore’s development, urbanization, multiculturalism, and the challenges that they faced over the past century.

Goh Seng Choo Gallery: Magic and Menace

The museum’s Goh Seng Choo Gallery is a tribute to a significant Singaporean collector. It is dedicated to showcasing Southeast Asian art and its various forms through its owner’s personal collection. The gallery’s collection includes carved wooden sculptures, textile work, pottery, and paintings.

Story of the Forest

The Glass Rotunda’s digital installation, Story of the Forest, recreates a stunning 360-degree rainforest journey that feels unbelievably lifelike. The interactive display uses lights and sounds to create an immersive experience that highlights the unique flora and fauna that populate Singapore’s rainforests.

National Museum of Singapore Special Exhibitions and Events

national museum of singapore
Image source: SoonHo Kwon

Rotating Exhibits Showcasing Singapore’s Heritage

The National Museum of Singapore is known for its dynamic rotation of exhibitions that highlight Singaporean culture, arts, and history. Visitors can check their website for more information on the latest exhibitions available.

Film Screenings and Performances

The museum hosts regular film screenings and performances that offer visitors a chance to engage with Singapore’s culture through various art forms. Visitors can check their website for more information on the latest events and schedules.

Workshops and Educational Programs

The museum offers workshops and educational programs for all ages, from children to adults. Their programs range from art workshops to archaeological digs and educational tours. Visitors can check their website for more information and to book their tickets in advance.


The National Museum of Singapore is a significant symbol of the country’s cultural heritage. It is an excellent destination for anyone seeking to learn about Singapore’s past and present. The museum’s impressive architecture, permanent exhibitions, and various events and programs make it a must-visit for anyone travelling to Singapore. Don’t forget to check their website and plan your visit to witness firsthand the rich cultural heritage of Singapore.